Yes, that’s what we learn in biology class. It’s probably not what ancient India taught in biology class 2500 years ago.


They used the microscope of vipassana to see how the sense organs worked. The Buddha stuck incredibly close to his pure experience (without extraneous interpretation), which ended up with a chain of phenomena starting from eye & visual image - the phenomenon couldn’t arise without either one, with a functioning eye, focused in the direction of the specified object. He could experience the ‘eye arising’ along with the visual object. This is how the eye behaves in direct experience of its function and this then led to arising of consciousness at the eye or ‘eye-consciousness’.


I don’t even know what you’re trying to say. That the Buddha was so great that he could have come up with a physio-cognitive theory like any biologist of the 21 century? Yes, per definition he was the greatest, so probably he could have. Did he though? If you insist on the translation of cakkhu as ‘eye’ then he did. If you are open to a maybe more accurate translation of ‘seeing’ then he maybe had something else in mind. Maybe the physiological eye that I can poke has little to do with the end of dukkha.


I just don’t see how this is correct. How can the Buddha (or any of us meditators) ever know that a “specified objects” exist when all we have to go on is the experience of seeing? You say that we need both (“functioning eye, focused in the direction of the specified object”), but this has the assumption that a “specified object” is required. I have never seen it suggested that vipassana can ‘see’ a “specified object” independent of the functioning eye, but if there’s a Sutta that suggests that I would be very interested. Surely the Buddha used the idea of an external world ‘out there’ because that’s what the people he was talking to assumed at the time (and also in this age that we live in), so that’s a common starting point. What we can possibly know is that if we wreck the eye it distorts the image and when we kill the eye we kill the image.


The following rather cryptic quote is about this situation:

Kaccāna, this world mostly relies on the dual notions of existence and non-existence. But when you truly see the origin of the world with right understanding, you won’t have the notion of non-existence regarding the world. And when you truly see the cessation of the world with right understanding, you won’t have the notion of existence regarding the world. SuttaCentral

One cannot say absolutely (ontologically) that the world exists or that it doesn’t exist. It can be seen to arise as a string of causal phenomena through direct experience or evidence. Note that mind-only explanations are also dependent on the world outside existing (or biological explanations) in opposition to the mind and therefore belongs to ‘everything exists’ view. Note that no explanation of the world is not rejected as there is some evidence for all explanations and frankly leads to not being attached to any singular explanation which allows letting-go of all explanations in my opinion as no explanation can be verified.


Needing eyes to see is pretty basic stuff though.


We could exchange arguments about it all day long. While dreaming your eyes don’t work, the light of the jhanas is not perceived by the eyes, when you remember an event visually or fantasize it, it’s not the eyes that come up with it.

What I don’t understand is why to insist that for the Buddha the physiological eye was so important. I would conclude then that it’d be best to rip my eyes out, stab my ears, etc. for a short-cut to nibbana. This is obviously not true. Blind people are impeded by the same dangers as people with functioning eyes. Deaf-blind-tasteless people are in no way better off (in a Buddhist sense) than those with functional senses.

Or: what would be the purpose for the Buddha to describe an accurate biological-physiological model for information-processing? If tanha and upadana are in the center of the teaching then only the elements that give rise to that are important and not a complete scientific model. A pragmatic model - again: we just have to follow cakkhu accurately - would focus on the mental-cognitive aspects since grasping and attaching work on that level.

I’m not grasping atoms and molecules but mental phenomena and representations…


And the world arises “in this fathom long body” right?

What I’m suggesting is that we can’t know what is beyond the edge of the senses, and what we can’t know, can’t possibly help us.

Very good.


Native English speakers who are completely blind will still say “I see” to indicate that they understand something.


I’m assuming when you say ‘seeing’ you mean in the context of the material eye, body, world etc. I’m saying he took seeing ‘just as seeing’… without baggage added to thinking about seeing (how, why, who, etc).

This part isn’t vipassana but rather common sense AFAIK. Evidence for material world. Cessation goes against that evidence (not completely).


Yet if we counterattack delusion with wisdom we get a similar result through vipassana- cessation of vision and the other sense doors. Delusion gives rise to things; Insight makes things cease.

Here’s a relevant quote:

the Tathāgata does not misconceive the seen, does not misconceive the unseen, does not misconceive what can be seen, does not misconceive one who sees. (2) Having heard what can be heard, he does not misconceive the heard… SuttaCentral


I’m just going by what the suttas describe - the internal sense-bases are invariably described in terms of the physical organs. Dreams and day-dreams and so on are mind-objects.

It looks quite straightforward to me, it’s just describing how our personal world comes into being. Conditionality and dependent arising.


Sure. My point was that needing ( working ) eyes to see is basic stuff, and something which would have been obvious in the Buddha’s time.


The suttas describe how our world arises.


‘This is my world’, probably contains some delusion within it. Can we see without the ‘seer’?

“So, having seen what can be seen, the Tathāgata does not misconceive the seen, does not misconceive the unseen, does not misconceive what can be seen, does not misconceive one who sees. SuttaCentral


Ignorance is a Condition
At Sāvatthī. “Ignorance is a condition for choices. Choices are a condition for consciousness. … That is how this entire mass of suffering originates.” When this was said, one of the mendicants asked the Buddha: “What are old age and death, sir, and who do they belong to?” “That’s not a fitting question,” said the Buddha. SuttaCentral


I haven’t found a way to do it - there always seems to be an observer, or at least the sense of one. Seeing implies a seer, and something to be seen, and without these there can be no seeing. Even “watching the breath” implies a watcher.
From what I can tell, the subject-object duality is inherent to sense-consciousness ( vi-nnana ).


It seems to me the suttas are indeed describing the reality that is accessible to each and every one of us through mindfulness meditation

“Mendicants, at one time, when I was first awakened, I was staying near Uruvelā at the goatherd’s banyan tree on the bank of the Nerañjarā River. As I was in private retreat this thought came to mind: ‘The four kinds of mindfulness meditation are the path to convergence. They are in order to purify sentient beings, to get past sorrow and crying, to make an end of pain and sadness, to complete the procedure, and to realize extinguishment.’


Bhikkhus, I will teach you the origination and the passing away of the four establishments of mindfulness. Listen to that.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the origination of the body? With the origination of nutriment there is the origination of the body. With the cessation of nutriment there is the passing away of the body.

“With the origination of contact there is the origination of feeling. With the cessation of contact there is the passing away of feeling.

“With the origination of name-and-form there is the origination of mind. With the cessation of name-and-form there is the passing away of mind.

“With the origination of attention there is the origination of phenomena. With the cessation of attention there is the passing away of phenomena.”


Bhikkhus, there are these four establishments of mindfulness. What four? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. As he dwells thus contemplating the body in the body, whatever desire he has for the body is abandoned. With the abandoning of desire, the Deathless is realized.

“He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena … having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. As he dwells thus contemplating phenomena in phenomena, whatever desire he has for phenomena is abandoned. With the abandoning of desire, the Deathless is realized.”


Does “passing away of the body” here mean physical death?

Does this mean actual cessation of contact and feeling? No more contact, no more feeling, no more mind, no more phenomena? And what would this look like, practically speaking?


Yes, but the sense is variable and can actually be ‘wiped’ so that only awareness without the sense of self remains.


But isn’t there still awareness of something, ie an object? That still implies a duality.

Also I’m not sure if the sense of self in the suttas ( mana ) is the same as subject-object duality?


Oneness is crucial only if God exists and evidence thereof being short in forthcoming, oneness is just a concept with spiritual value. Duality is falling away from oneness and isn’t of great currency in the dhamma.

I see it like this:
Delusion: conventional: subject& object: internal & external
Wisdom: ultimate: aggregates, sense based, dhatu (no subject/object split) : causal chains of aggregates and sense bases etc. (no in - out).

To put it in another way if we think I’m looking at a tree :deciduous_tree: all the time the :deciduous_tree: is visible the observer :girl: isn’t visible and when we turn to see who is doing the looking, we see :girl: but the tree vanishes. Only a unitary field of observation exists and therefore producing a subject is an unnecessary conceptualisation. ‘I do not conceptualise a seer in the seen’ AN4.24.